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What happens if skippers aren't skilled in navigating rough seas?

One of the first things that captains learn in their seamanship classes is about how to best handle their water vessels if they come upon rough seas. There can be severe damage to the boat and mass human casualties if a captain doesn't take proactive measures in instances like this.

Rough seas can make it hard for boats to stay upright. They can easily swamp and capsize as they're battered back and forth as they navigate choppy seas. Well-prepared vessels and experienced captains can often survive unexpected changes in currents though.

Captains must be well-trained in judiciously using the boat's throttle and helm and how to rig their ship if they wish to safely navigate rough waters. Captains should shut all companionway doors, ports and hatches to try and keep water out as they're coming upon choppy waters. Skippers should also pump the bilge of any extra water weight and clear away any debris that may make it hard for the scuppers to drain water in these instances as well.

Inexperienced skippers often don't have enough experience to recognize changes in the way the boat feels as the engine area and bilge begin to flood.

Some of the reasons why boats don't often fare well when they come into rough seas are because captains haven't taken time to assign important responsibilities to their crew in case something like this were to occur. Handling the helm and throttle is bound to be a full-time job in itself for a captain. This is why there should be a contingency plan for who's going to shut hatches and doors, balance the weight of crew and passengers, secure all loose objects and keep track of the positioning gauges in advance of leaving the dock.

It's the shipowner or captain's responsibility to keep track of the weather forecasts and to know the limits of the water vessel so that they don't allow it to be taken into choppy waters or used in situations it may not be fit to handle. New York law may allow you to pursue damages against any shipowner or captain that fails to uphold these basic safety obligations. An attorney here in Manhattan can advise you of your right to sue for damages if you have been left injured in such an incident.

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